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3 Fun Christmas Traditions & Where They Came From December 22, 2017 10:25

With just days to go until Christmas, we thought it'd be fun to learn more about where some of our favorite traditions come from. From the stockings on the fireplace to the decorating of a tree, each of these cherished traditions have a beautiful origin story that we hope you'll share with your own family this holiday season.

Source: Lia Griffith

1. Christmas Stockings

Today, many of us have a colorful stocking that only comes out around this time of year and only serves the purpose of collecting small toys and treats. But like all our traditions on this list, Christmas Stockings have a much more humble beginning.

The story goes that a recently widowed man was worried about the marriage prospects of his three daughters. He was concerned because they didn't have much as a family, and he was worried that that would deter would-be suiters.

On Christmas night, St. Nicholas had heard from the local townspeople the sad story of the family who had recently lost a wife/mother, and he decided he wanted to help. Later that evening, he snuck into the home through the chimney and found the recently washed stockings of the young girls drying over the fireplace.

In the stockings, he put 3 gold coins. In the morning, the family woke to this wonderful surprise and the man's concern faded as he realized there would be a future for his three daughters thanks to the generous St. Nicholas. From this point on, it was a tradition to hang stockings in the home so that there was a place for St. Nicholas to put his gifts. 

Source: Christmas Tree Association

2. Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree tradition dates back to our pagan ancestors. Many ancient groups believed that the sun was a god and in the weeks preceding the winter solstice, they would worry that the sun was sick because of the shortening days. After the winter solstice, the days would get longer and many believed that because of the longer days, it meant that the sun was feeling better. To help the sun get through this tough time, people across many cultures would collect the boughs of a tree that could last through all seasons, the evergreen. 

The collection of these boughs becoming today's Christmas tree took place in 16th century Germany when Christians would combine the collection of the evergreen boughs with the celebration of Christmas in the form of a decorated tree. It is believed that Martin Luther was the first to add candles to his boughs when he was walking home one evening and remarked on the beauty of the stars in the night sky. 

German immigrants began bringing the Christmas tree to America in the 18th century, but it was not until late into the 19th century that the tradition caught on.

Source: Sweet Sugarbelle

3. Cookies for Santa

It is believed that the tradition of leaving cookies out for Santa is actually rooted in ancient Norse mythology. Children would leave out treats to encourage the supreme god, Odin, and his horse to stop by their home to leave them gifts during the Christmas season. In fact, in many Nordic countries; children still believe Santa Clause rides on a horse versus a sleigh.

In the US, it is believed that this tradition was popularized during the Great Depression as a way to teach their children to be generous and to learn to be appreciative of the gifts they received from Santa. We love the idea of sharing this valuable life lesson with our children in both times of hardship and prosperity!

What are your favorite holiday traditions? Do you know their history? Share in the comments!

 


'Tis the Season: 5 Clever Ways to Give Gift Cards December 13, 2017 13:51

Gift cards are a funny thing.  People love receiving them, but as the gift-giver,  they can leave you feeling a bit lackluster, like you did not put in enough effort - and no one wants to come off as a lazy gift-giver!

We’ve got 5 solutions to that very problem!  Step-up your gift-card-giving game this holiday season with one of these 5 clever ideas:

 

1 | Create an Origami Card Holder

Add a personal touch with a DIY origami gift card holder.  You can find easy instructions here

For bonus points, you could include some fun stationary along with instructions for more origami creations!


2 | Make a Themed Arrangement

Personalize the vessel for your gift card based on the theme of the gift card itself.  For example, if you are giving a gift card from a coffee house, put the gift card in a coffee cup.  

You could do a cute display with a disposable cup like the one shown above or add to the gift with a reusable travel or at-home mug.  We love the selection of fun mugs available on Etsy.


3 | Presentation is Everything

[Photo Source]

Part of the fun about gifts is the presentation.  Simply putting some extra effort into a beautiful or unique wrapping job will elevate your gift card a couple of notches.

Start by gathering some inspiration from Good Housekeeping’s article, 35 Genius Gift Wrap Ideas for Prettier Presents (psst… we like #9).


4 | Include a Shopping Bag

If the gift card is to a brick-and-mortar store where the recipient can go shopping in person, include a reusable shopping bag for them to use on their shopping trip!

You can purchase reusable shopping bags at your local grocery store or online, or you can make one at home.  This tutorial shows you how to make a folding shopping bag and includes plenty of step-by-step pictures to help you through the process.


5 | Make the Purchase Easy

Make it easy for your recipient to use their gift card!  Provide a catalog or brochure from the business where the gift card is intended to be used.

At Bates Mill Store, we have a helpful brochure and fabric swatch package which will make picking out the perfect bedspread, blanket or accessory easy!  Simply request one in the special instructions box when placing your order for a Bates Mill Store Gift Card.

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Have another fun idea for giving gift cards?  Share it in the comments below!


'Tis the Season! 7 Maine Traditions to Kindle the Holiday Spirit December 2, 2017 20:35

The days may be colder and the nights may be longer, but this is one of the brightest times of the year in Maine.  We're experienced in combating a 4:00PM sunset, dropping temperatures, and impending snowstorms with a vast array of winter and holiday activities to keep our spirits on the rise.  If you'd like to add some new traditions to your list this year, we've put together a few ideas for you to celebrate the chilly weather and the holiday season.

1. Go Sledding or Snow-tubing

Sledding and snow-tubing are fantastic ways to get some fresh air in the wintertime and enjoy something that many of us curse more often than not-- the snow.  Plus, the whole family can go! 

Source: MaineToday - Tubing Parks in Maine

2. Visit a Maine Craft Fair

This time of year is filled with weekend craft fairs as vendors set up their handmade wares just in time for the gift-giving rush.  Check out this directory of fairs & festivals to find the closest one near you, or if you're up for a road trip, just pick the one that looks the best!

3. Pick up Goodies from Top-Notch Bakery

A family-owned business since 1995, Standard Baking Co. offers artisanal baked goods made from 100% Maine-grown grains.   Stop into their shop on Commercial Street in Portland to grab some loaves for your holiday dinners, and maybe some warm pastries for the road.

Photo Source: Lauren Loves to Eat

Bakery Website: http://standardbakingco.com/

4. Go Ice Skating

If you like to skate, Maine has a TON of skating rinks, both indoor and outdoor, depending on your preference.  If you're skating outdoors, just be sure to call ahead to make sure the conditions are suitable for being on ice!  Check out this list to scope out all the locations: Maine Indoor and Outdoor Skating Rinks.

Source: Maine Vacations

5. Pick out a Tree at a Local Tree Farm

Searching for a Maine-grown Christmas tree? Most tree farms open up the weekend after Thanksgiving, and stay open until Christmas Eve.  Some offer additional activities like sleigh rides and visits from Santa-- and some even let you cut down the tree of your choosing.  To find a place near you, visit Pick Your Own Christmas Tree.

Source: MaineToday

6. Knit (By the Fire, if You Can.)

Nothing screams "KNITTING!" like a winter evening when snuggling up on the couch is the only comfortable option.  Mother of Purl Yarn in Freeport Maine has a "Knit Down to Christmas," where you can knit a new Christmas item each week leading up to the big day.  They'll deliver free patterns to your email inbox.  They also have Holiday Knitting Classes, if you need a little extra help getting started.  We love to support our local yarn stores. 

Source: Mother of Purl Yarn

7. Take a Tour at the Maine Heritage Weavers Factory

We love visitors and are happy to give tours of our production floor.  If you need to get out of the cold and are interested in Maine weaving and textiles, drop on in during our hours of operation.

What are your favorite Maine holiday traditions?  Please share them with us in the comments below!

 


Never Arrive Empty Handed: 5 Hostess Gifts that'll Guarantee Next Year's Invitation November 16, 2017 14:41

One of our favorite parts of the holidays is hosting and attending festive parties throughout the season. If you're planning on attending a get together, we encourage you to consider one of the Made in USA hostess gifts we've highlighted below. Your host or hostess will certainly appreciate the gesture (don't be surprised if you get an invite back next year!), and they'll love the retelling the unique story behind each of these gifts.

Source: SoulfulDesign on Etsy

1. Wine Bottle Holder

While most hostesses probably have a corkscrew readily handy around their home, a wine holder can be a fun gift that can be as simple or complex as you'd like it to be. We love to give the simple counter-balancing wine bottle holders that have been popular at craft fairs in recent years. The holders are typically a simple block of wood with a hole in it which begins as a mystery item until you pull out a bottle of wine (ta-da!). The counter-balancing holder seems to almost work like magic as it perfectly balances the bottle. We love the simple design of this made in Maine wine holder from SoulfulDesign.

 

Source: DesignAndDandyCo on Etsy

2. Set of Tea Towels

Tea towels are great for so many tasks around the home! They are also widely available and come in a variety of options which can give you a great opportunity to find a set that reflects the personality of the hostess. From sassy quotes to fun colors, a set of tea towels makes a great stand alone gift or, if you find a locally made set, be sure to pair your gift with a thoughtful greeting card about the artisan who made your set. From farmhouse chic to holiday cheer, we love the array of festive tea towel designs from DesignAndDandyCo.

Source: Georgetown Pottery

3. Fresh Plant or Flowers in a Vessel

For many, flowers are the go to gift, but how many of us have given or received a bouquet of flowers only to be stressed about finding a vase or other vessel to put them in? We recommend solving the scramble by gifting the flowers or plant in a vessel. We recommend finding a local florist wherever you may be visiting to get the best quality flowers and a thoughtful touch. We love these gorgeous Made in Maine vases from Georgetown Pottery.

4. Winter Medley Throw

Who doesn't love to snuggle up in a cozy throw while the snow falls outside? Our newest holiday throw is designed to be a festive choice for the holidays but subtle enough to be appreciated throughout the winter months. Your hostess will appreciate the unique texture of our signature terry weave and will keep them cozy long after the holidays are over.

Source: Black Dinah Chocolatiers

5. Locally Made Artisan Chocolates or Candies

With the resurgence in the craft of fine candy and chocolate taking place across the country, you won't have to look far for a locally made edible gift. Our Made in Maine pick is the super cute Thanksgiving Collection from Black Dinah Chocolatiers. Who wouldn't love a to receive a chocolate hedgehog or beautiful pumpkin truffle? If you're feeling ambitious this holiday season, you could even dive into creating your own delectable treats in your kitchen. Here's a great tutorial to get you started: 35 Heavenly Homemade Food Gifts.

Have your own go-to hostess gifts or a favorite gift you've received? Share in the comments!


Holiday Season 2017: 3 Ways to Shop Made in USA November 12, 2017 16:14

The holiday season is fast approaching! If you want to give the gift of American-made this holiday season, you'll want to play ahead to be sure to find the perfect present for everyone on your list (it is possible!). Check out our tips below for how you can keep your entire holiday shopping list Made in USA. 

Source: FEZtival of Treez, Kora Temple

1. Local Craft Fairs

Craft fairs are fantastic places not only to buy beautiful Made in USA gifts, but most of the time you'll actually get to meet the craftsman or woman behind the item you're purchasing. To make the most of the craft fair season, you'll want to check out local community calendars to schedule out your shopping trips to all the fairs in your area (they start popping up as early as the first weekend in November). In some places, you'll even find craft fairs that coincide with other events making a day trip that is festive for the whole family. Our local favorite holiday event and craft fair combination takes place in Lewiston, Maine: Kora Shriners' FEZtival of Trees.

2. Small Business Saturday

Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, small businesses across the country open their doors for a special day of holiday shopping. For our team, this is one of the highlights of the year as we open our factory doors to welcome folks from across New England. We encourage people to shop great deals on bedspreads and blankets as well as tour the factory floor so they can see where the items they are purchasing are made. Learn more & RSVP to our Small Business Saturday event here.

To find out local businesses that are hosting Small Business Saturday events in your area, we encourage you to check out the Small Business Saturday Map from American Express OPEN to plan your day of shopping small and shopping made in USA.

3. Online

If you don't enjoy the crowds or are simply too busy to shop in-person, we encourage you to look online. Simply use your favorite search engine to find specific items with the "Made in USA" phrase at the front of your search. Another place we love to browse for Made in USA gifts is the ever-popular marketplace, Etsy. In addition, our own state has a great organization, Maine Made, that supports local businesses in a variety of ways including an online directory that helps connect them to customers shopping year round.

We recommend signing up for the newsletters of your favorite artisans and small businesses to ensure you get their emails throughout the holiday season as many (including us) have their best sales of the year during the big 3 holiday shopping days: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday (It's not just an in-person event!), and Cyber Monday.

Be sure to sign up for our newsletter here, and keep your eye out for our special holiday releases and promotions.


Where do you love to shop for American made gifts? Ever received a locally made gift you just loved? Share in the comments.

 


5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Halloween in New England October 27, 2017 19:50

Fall is one of our favorite seasons here in New England, and Halloween is a big part of the celebration. No matter where you find yourself, there is sure to be a Halloween activity close-by. From scarecrows to haunted zoos... pick your poison from our list below and get started!

1 | Pick-Your-Own Pumpkin

Sure, you can buy a pumpkin at the supermarket… but why do that when you can pick your own straight from the pumpkin patch?  Treworgy’s Family Orchard in Levant, Maine has this and so much more.  When you are ready to carve your pumpkin, check out these 30 Easy Pumpkin Carving Ideas for inspiration.

2 | Go to the Zoo


You read that right!  The Southwick Zoo in Mendon, Massachusetts hosts their annual Zoo Boo Days, where kids can trick-or-treat and the animals play with pumpkins!

3 | Walk through a Corn Maze


Corn mazes are a classic fall activity in New England and are great for the whole family (although some corn mazes hold night-time events for those seeking a thrill!).  If you are looking for a lengthy adventure, check out the largest corn maze in New England.


4 | Haunted Houses, Haunted Walks, Haunted Rides... oh my!

Houses can be haunted any time of year, but during October in New England anything is liable to be filled with ghouls and goblins... even the woods!  A quick internet search will turn up all kinds of haunted houses, walks and rides.  If you find yourself in Wallingford, Connecticut for Halloween though, make sure to check out their Trail of Terror… if you dare.


5 | Go on a Scarecrow Hunt

During the month of October, the streets of Portsmouth, New Hampshire are teeming with scarecrows. Print the map above and set out to find them all. Learn more about Scarecrows of the Port here.

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Do you have a favorite Halloween event that you like to attend? Share it with us in the comments below!


Monmouth Community Garden: Final Harvest and Clean-Up October 2, 2017 11:13

With temperates reaching almost 90 degrees in late September, one would hardly guess that winter will soon be on our doorstep!  After a bountiful third season, the Monmouth Community Garden is slowly wrapping up and gardeners are beginning to think about fall clean-up.
Nearly everyone has mountains of tomatoes, ready for harvesting!  Looks like it's time to get making and preserving some sauce.  If you're interested in a good recipe, we've found a great one at Wellness Mama.  Lasagna, anyone?
Even though it was a difficult squash year for some growers, one gardener has a handsome crop of butternut squash ripening.
A few plots down, another member had some great success with orange peppers!  With summer heat waves continuing into late September, there was plenty of time for the color to turn.
We have several patches of sunflowers in the garden.  The bees are in full pollination mode, and we're happy to see them out and about.
Check out this little guy's dusty yellow legs!  Whatta sweetheart.
Although specific times and dates are still up in the air, Community Garden members are planning a fall Pot-Luck/Meeting sometime the second week of October to discuss plans for fall clean-up and to talk about possibilities for next season.  All interested in joining the garden next year are welcome to attend!  To be updated on the exact time/day of our meeting, or FMI in general, please contact Chad Wright at  chadwright2010@gmail.com or Adrienne Beacham at adrienne@maineheritageweavers.com.

5 Tips for Storing Seasonal Bedding September 1, 2017 13:42

Bedding, like so many things in life, tends to change with the seasons.  With cooler weather on the horizon, we thought this would be a good time to share some tips for storing your warm-weather bedding until Spring.


1 | Proper Cleaning

Before storing your linens for the winter, run them through a proper wash and dry cycle. That way, they’ll be fresh and ready to throw on the bed come spring.  For larger linens, like bedspreads, you might consider going to a laundromat where you will have access to large capacity washers and dryers for the most thorough cleaning.


2 | Breathable Packaging

When dealing with natural fibers (like cotton), it is good practice to let the fabric breath while in storage.  That means storing it in a container which is also made of natural fibers (again, like cotton).  These under-the-bed containers by Household Essentials® are made of cotton canvas and designed to be used with cedar planks for added freshness and protection from moths.


3 | Picking the Best Location

Where you store your blankets is just as important as how you store your blankets.  Of course, the location of storage will depend entirely on the space you have available.  But no matter where you tuck them away, the most important thing is that the space be cool and dry.  If the storage area is warm, moisture can build up leading to mold and mildew.  If you let that happen, then you will be spending your valuable time finding ways to save the fabric.


4 | Saving Space

If your home does not offer a lot of extra space for storage, you may be forced to get creative when packing away your seasonal bedding.  One space saving idea is to store your seasonal bedding in a cedar chest, which offers a dual function of storage and seating.

5 | Prepare for Winter

Before storing away your summer bedding, make sure you have your winter linens ready!  We have plenty of heavyweight bedspreads and blankets that are sure to keep you warm all winter long.


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Do you have a storage tip that works for you?  Share it in the comments below!


Monmouth Community Garden: Ready for Harvest August 20, 2017 17:17 1 Comment

Check out what's growing on the Bates Mill Store + Factory lawn!

The bees have been loving the acorn squash flowers!  It makes us happy to see them out and about pollinating.

The red cabbage is almost ready for harvest.  Just a few more days!

The Monmouth Community Garden isn't just for veggies.  Audrey always plants a selection of flowers on the edge of her garden plot. These marigolds are actually a natural way to help keep pests away.

The rainbow chard could be made into a bouquet of it's own.

Tomatoes are just beginning to turn red.  These guys have come a long way since we last snapped their photo.

A spindly tomato seedling from our first post.  They grow up so fast!

You know how it is: plant just a few zucchini seeds in the spring and you'll have them coming out of your ears in no time.  Looks like many of our gardeners will be eating zucchini every day for the next few weeks!  Need cooking inspiration?  We found a list of 46 Sweet and Savory Zucchini Ideas from Crazy for Crust.  How many of these dishes can you make by the end of the season?  We challenge you!

Have your own garden-harvest recipes to share?  We'd love to hear your favorites. Tell us all about them in the comment section!


Back to School: 5 Made is USA Options for All Students Heading Back to School August 9, 2017 12:33

It's that time of year again! Whether you're sending your kids off to kindergarten or college, there are some great companies still making quality school supplies and accessories that are guaranteed to please your student for years to come.

Source: Tough Traveler

1. Made in USA Backpack

We love the range of Made in USA backpacks from Tough Traveler. They've been making all sorts of bags in NY since 1970 and are happy to add custom options to your bag (this is one of the advantages of buying direct from a factory!). If your student is middle school or younger, be sure to check out their backpacks for children. If your student is heading to college, check out there regular line of backpacks.

Source: Write Dudes

2. Made in USA Pencils

For your general pencil writing needs, Write Dudes have a great American made option in their USA Gold pencils. These traditional yellow pencils are made in Tennessee and out of sustainably harvested cedar wood.

If your student is an artist, we also recommend checking out The General Pencil Company. They have been making high quality pencils in New Jersey since 1889. With six generations of experience, your artist will appreciate the quality and craft that goes into the pencils that will help them create their own artwork.

Source: Michael Roger

3. Made in USA Notebooks

Family-owned since it was started in 1949, you can expect only the highest quality Made in USA notebooks from the company, Michael Roger. We especially like their line of "Decomposition" Notebooks which are made of 100% post-consumer-waste and come in a variety of beautiful designs. You're sure to find the perfect fit for any student - no matter the age (you may even pick one up for yourself). Visit their website to find a local store near you or you can purchase through their sister store, BookBinders.com.

Source: Crayola

4. Made in USA Crayons, Markers & More

One of the can't-be-forgotten items on every elementary school list are those that make the days colorful! Crayola has been making their iconic crayons since 1903 and continue to make a variety of their products here in the USA. Check out all their Made in USA crayons, markers, and more here.

5. Made in USA Blankets

If your student is heading to college, you may be exploring twin size bedding options for their dorm room. We have lots of great blanket options in twin sizes that are wonderful options for the top of bed or even for your son or daughter to have an extra layer available for chilly nights in the dorm. Perhaps the best part is that they are all machine washable/dry-able making it easy for your student to clean while away. Check out all our Made in USA Blankets

Do you have any go-to Made in USA supplies on your list? Be sure to share in the comments.


Monmouth Community Garden: Growing Strong & New Sign! July 30, 2017 12:36

 MONMOUTH COMMUNITY GARDEN

JULY 2017

 

It's mid-July, and all the plants in the Monmouth Community Garden are starting to burst!  After a rainy and chilly spring, the weather has blossomed into a string of hot, humid days.  One would think that the high humidity levels would indicate more rain on the horizon, but it never seems to come.  Although the lack of precipitation this season could be concerning for some gardeners, the Monmouth Community Garden has two hoses on site, making watering easy to keep up with.  Thank goodness!  With water available, the plants seem to be thriving in the heat-- especially the peppers.  Can you believe how big those babies are already?

 

 

In other news, now we're official: we have a snazzy sign out front!  We're excited to have this new addition in the garden, and hope that it will catch some prospective gardeners' eyes who are interested in participating next season.  Check it out as you drive by (but rubberneck safely, please-- don't go into the ditch!)

 

 

Once again, we would like to thank the Bates Mill Store/Maine Heritage Weavers Factory for hosting our garden and providing their constant support.  It's already looking like a plentiful harvest is on the way.

What's growing in your garden this year?  What is your favorite way to enjoy fresh produce?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!


All American Beach Trip: 5 Made in USA Beach Accessories for Your Next Seaside Adventure June 15, 2017 12:50 1 Comment

Summer in Maine is one of our favorite times of the year - especially since we get to enjoy our beautiful beaches under the hot sun. This season, we wanted to find the perfect set of beach accessories to help make our trips to the ocean as enjoyable as possible. Check out the 5 Made in USA beach accessories that made our list below and be sure to share your own recommendations in the comments. 

Photo Source: Anywhere Chair

1. Beach Chair - Mini Sand Chair from Anywhere Chair (Made in North Carolina)

Heading to the beach means relaxing, and as much as we love just laying out in the sand, a chair is often a welcomed spot to relax and enjoy the scenery comfortably. We love the portable size of the Mini Sand Chair from Anywhere Chair. Made from solid oak and marine grade fabric in 30 color options, they make it easy to pick out the perfect chair for your next beach trip.

Source: TheAnimailKingdom.com

2. Beach Toys - Sand Play Set from Green Toys (Made in California)

What beach trip isn't complete without a sand castle or two? This back to the basics sand play set from Green Toys is the perfect set of tools to make a sandcastle or hunt for buried treasure. Available in 3 colors, the little ones will certainly be thrilled to pick out their favorite color while the adults can be happy to know that their beach toys are made out of 100% recycled plastic by an American manufacturer based in California. 

3. Beach Blanket from Bates Mill Store (Made in Maine)

What beach gear list isn't complete without a beach blanket? Our 2017 Beach Blanket's tight weave makes it resistant to picking up sand, so you won't be taking too much of the beach home with you. These lightweight blankets are large enough for two people to lounge on and soak up the sun while folding up small enough to take with you wherever you go. Made in Maine of 100% preshrunk cotton and machine washable for easy care following a long day on the sand.

4. Beach Towel from Just Beach Towels (Made in USA)

In Maine, our beach waters tend to be quite cold - especially in the ocean - so a nice heavy option is our beach towel of choice. We love these striped over-sized Cabana Towels from Just Beach Towels. These heavyweight Cabana Towels are available in 3 colors (blue/white, green/white, and pink/white) and are made in a huge size at 38" by 68" inches. If you're not into stripes, they have several other fun patterns to choose from in the same quality construction. See all their options in this collection: Made in USA Beach Towels.

Photo Source: Bison Coolers

5. Beach Cooler - Bison Soft Sided Cooler (Made in Texas)

Stylish and practical - these Soft Sided Coolers from Bison can keep ice cold for up to 24 hours in 120 degree heat. The smaller size fits 12 cans or you can upgrade to the 24 can size. We love this easy to tote option for a day on the beach or wherever your adventures take you this summer. Available in 4 colors: Tan, Black, Pink and Blue. 


Monmouth Community Garden: Ready For Planting! June 9, 2017 10:25



5 Ways to Observe Memorial Day Weekend in Maine May 14, 2017 12:34

Memorial Day weekend is the official “unofficial start” to Summer in Maine.  The weather is warm, the birds are singing, and flowers are blooming.  It’s only natural for us to want to get outside and enjoy it all!  At the same time, we want to respect the real reason for Memorial Day, which is to remember and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may enjoy freedom and liberty.  Below are 5 ways to observe Memorial Day while still leaving yourself plenty of time for barbeques with family and friends. 

1 | Participate in a 5k Fundraiser

This is a great way to get outside while supporting a good cause.  Look for a 5k where the proceeds benefit soldiers and their families, like the Miles for Mills 5k in Augusta.

[Photo Source]

2 | Bring the Kids to a Parade

There’s no shortage of parades on Memorial Day and kids love them!  Check out this list of parades in Maine to find one near you.

[Photo Source]

3 | Attend a Memorial Day Service

Memorial Day services often go hand-in-hand with parades, but there are plenty of ceremonies where you can avoid all the fanfare if that’s not what you’re into.  Look for flag-raising ceremonies, wreath laying ceremonies and guest speakers.

[Photo Source]

4 | Volunteer for Cemetery Clean Up

Towns will often clean the local cemetery and place flowers or flags on the graves of fallen soldiers during the month of May and specifically on Memorial Day. Check with your local town office for opportunities to assist.

[Photo Source]

5 | Observe the National Moment of Remembrance

This is one that everyone can participate in, no matter where you are or what you are doing.  At 3:00pm local time, take a moment to participate with the rest of the country in a moment of silence to reflect on sacrifices made for our freedom.

How will you be spending your Memorial Day Weekend? Share in the comments.


Welcoming Monmouth Community Garden's Third Year May 3, 2017 14:00

Spring is a notoriously fickle season in Maine.  Some years, we're still getting snow showers mid-April, and other times it's practically already summer come Easter. Luckily for us, this year the latter seems to be (more) true.  Grass is green, and though temperatures have yet to really rise, we've been spoiled by a warm day or two. In any case, it's May now...so we've moved past the danger zone! 

With warmer weather definitely on the way, Bates Mill Store is getting ready to kick off a 3rd year of hosting the Monmouth Community Garden, a project we've greatly enjoyed supporting and seeing grow over the last few summers.

The garden, which is located on the large front lawn of the Maine Heritage Weavers factory building, is managed by a small group of community members who are dedicated to tending their garden plots and keeping the operation running smoothly year-to-year. The land space, tilling, and water (right on site!) is donated by Maine Heritage Weavers.

Plot spaces are signed up for as singles (12'x30') or, for the avid gardener, as doubles (24'x30').  Gardeners are responsible for the upkeep of their own plots, and for working respectfully with their plot neighbors to ensure a harmonious and successful season.

Below are some photos from last year's crop.  It explodes fast!

We were very fortunate to have water available to us right on site, considering last year's drought conditions.  Clearly, this jungle was well-watered, and had plenty of sun!

If you, or someone that you know, is interested in having a small garden plot this year, please spread the word and like us on Facebook.  We still have 6 open plots available (if taken as singles-- less if doubled up).  

You can read more about last year's efforts in the Monmouth Community Garden project in the Kennebec Journal.  

For questions or to inquire about available plot spaces, Please contact the garden coordinator, Chad Wright at 207-446-9685 for additional information.

Those interested in signing up for a plot can also get in touch with Laurie Walker at the Monmouth Town Office.  She is the official go-to for plot registration and can be reached at the regular town office hours.

Here's to another excellent growing season!  We look forward to all the fresh veggies.


Bates Employee Attempts to Dye Easter Eggs With Pantry Ingredients, Decides to Keep Day Job April 14, 2017 10:54

Nobody knows for sure where the tradition of dying eggs for Easter began, but there are several origin stories. If you didn’t grow up participating in this activity, then you might view the whole thing as a bit wacky, but for many of us it is a favorite Springtime activity.

When dying Easter eggs, it is standard practice to use food coloring in order to create an array of fun pastels. In recent years, however, the internet has been filled with tutorials on how to make natural dyes from normal pantry items. The dyes are said to offer a palette of earthy, natural hues. One of our employees decided to try her hand at this new method. Did it work? We will let her tell you how it went.

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I decided to try this natural method for dying eggs on a whim, so I was limited to what I had on hand. I was able to scrounge up the following ingredients that I suspected might do the trick (photo above: left to right): paprika, ginger powder, Beyond Coffee (a yummy coffee alternative, Made in Maine!), soy sauce, maraschino cherries, spinach and cherry tomatoes. I had high hopes for the paprika, spinach and coffee because those were mentioned in some of the tutorials I had reviewed. If nothing else, I was certain the cherries would work because they already have an actual dye in them.

After reviewing several sets of online instructions for the easiest possible method, I decided to wing it. I filled the jars with boiling water from the tea kettle and added a tablespoon of white vinegar to each.

I allowed the dyes to cool slightly before adding my boiled eggs and then stored them overnight in the refrigerator. The picture above shows the eggs before entering the dye baths. Would they be an array of fun colors in the morning?

Not quite. The eggs from the "coffee", soy sauce, carrots and ginger changed to a slightly darker (but still normal) egg color, while the egg from the spinach did not change at all. The egg from the paprika had only a very slight red hue, and my sure-fire cherry egg was barely pink. What did I do wrong?

After carefully reviewing the instructions, there were a few things I could have done differently that might have helped my chances. Please don't let my experience deter you from trying! Learn from my mistakes:

1) Boil the dye ingredient in water for at least 5 minutes.

2) Strain out any solids from the dye liquid.

3) Use white eggs so whatever color does show is more prominent.

4) Use fresh vegetables (I used frozen spinach and tomatoes).

5)  Allow the dye to cool completely before adding the eggs."

All is not lost, however. I know someone who will still enjoy the eggs. :)

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Have an egg dying recipe of your own?  Please feel free to share it in the comments!

 


3 Tips to Designing Your Bedroom in the American Colonial Style March 26, 2017 18:38

Whether you just purchased a new Queen Elizabeth Bedspread or you inherited a George Washington's Choice Bedspread from your grandparents, completing your bedroom in the classic American Colonial Style can be a great way to highlight your new bedspread. From which colors to choose to picking the perfect accents, review our 3 tips to decorating in this classic style below. 

Source: ArtSparx.com

1. Colors: Choose Natural & Neutral

Much of the American Colonial style is dictated by the practicality of the era. Most items were handmade of natural materials so when it comes to colors, you tend to see neutral and natural colors. Check out the pallet above to see examples of some of the muted colors popular from the era. We recommend considering these colors when it comes to the walls, floors and window treatments.

Source: DanandDeeDesigns on Etsy.com

2. Accessories: Choose Pewter, Brass or Tin Pieces

Accents and accessories give you the opportunity to really make your bedroom yours. If you enjoy visiting flea markets and antique stores, we recommend seeking out some pieces from the era. Another option would be to modernize the American Colonial Design aesthetic by selecting pieces handmade pewter, brass or tin pieces that lean toward a more modern motif.

Source: Eldred Wheeler

3. Furniture: Plain & Classic 

As noted above, much of the American Colonial Style is dictated by the practical and that includes furniture. Furniture in this design tend to be functional and versatile. Antique furniture in great shape can be quite expensive from this era, but fortunately, there are lots of options when it comes to American-made reproductions including the beautiful work of Eldred Wheeler in Massachusetts.


Whether you love the hunt of antiques or you prefer well-reproductions, decorating your bedroom in the American Colonial Style can be an adventure or as straightforward as you want to make it. Have fun and be sure to share your finds and tips in the comments below.


Cotton Throws for Every Home Decor Style March 14, 2017 07:24 2 Comments

Decorating your home is like perfecting a favorite food dish: You start out with a basic recipe, then creatively tweak it here and there depending on your taste.  We had fun browsing through Dwell Candy's list of common interior design themes to put together this week's blog post.  No matter what you have chosen as the starting "recipe" for your house styling projects, a cotton throw is a versatile, practical, and attractive addition to any room.  Today, we're sharing our own list, pairing our favorite cotton throws with 10 major home decor themes.   

1) Shabby Chic - Martha Washington's Choice Throw

Shabby Chic design is soft, feminine, and vintage.  Our Martha Washington's Choice throw is the perfect pairing, with its classic candlewick weave and time-honored surface patterning.

 

2) Nautical - Seashell Throw

Being located on a coastal state, we have quite a few designs that tip their hats to this sea-faring approach. Marked by blue and white color schemes and naval-related accessories, this design theme can be boldly adventurous or peacefully cozy.  If you love an organic true to life design, we recommend the Seashell Throw. However, if you prefer more classic geometric designs, you may want to consider the Cape Cod Throw.

 

3) Rustic - George Washington's Choice Throw

The rustic look honors handcrafted or homespun items and natural textures.  The chunky, heavyweight weave of our George Washington's Choice Throw truly allows the material itself to shine.

 

4) American Colonial - Abigail Adams Throw

Our Abigail Adams Throw (both in appearance and name) exemplifies the American Colonial decor style, which draws upon the formal and intricate design themes of-- you guessed it-- Colonial America.  This beautiful throw was inspired by the bed coverings that President John Adams himself used while living abroad in France, making it the ideal choice for those who strive to replicate this style.

 

5) Art Nouveau - Colonial Rose Throw

Art Nouveau is characterized by curving, flowing lines, heavy ornamentation, and stylized floral motifs.  Our Colonial Rose Throw is a fantastic lightweight option which contains all of these elegant, organic design elements.

 

6) Modern - Cathedral Throw

Possibly one of the most popular current design trends, Modern homes are simple, spacious, hard-edged, professional, and tranquil.  The Cathedral throw features a clean-cut chevron weave which is simultaneously fresh and classic.

 

7) Art Deco - Dyer's Wynd Throw

The Art Deco room strives to create an atmosphere that, as described by Dwell Candy, "borders on the bombastic."  This design theme calls back to the roaring 20s, and is saturated with luxurious textures and flashy geometrics.  Our Dyer's Wynd Throw would be a great fit here.  With its large and exciting, paisley pattern, it is certainly a piece to be remarked upon.

 

8) Victorian - Queen Elizabeth Throw

Classy excess characterizes the Victorian style.  The pairing of subtle color schemes with vintage patterns (especially damasks, satins, and florals) gives this design theme a high-end feel.  The Queen Elizabeth Throw design is an authentic reproduction of an original hand-woven masterpiece dating back to the Elizabethan era. Its ornate center medallion and all-around grace makes it a perfect fit for this home design theme.

 

9) Country Cottage - Americana Throw

Our Americana Throw features an all over pattern of geometric stars, reminiscent of classic quilt patterns. This aspect of it's character fits right in to the Country Cottage decor style, which is cozy, cheerful, and utilitarian.

 

10) Southwestern - Spirit of America Throw

Inspired by Native American design, the Spirit of America throw features sharp angles and a bold geometric medallion.  This makes it the perfect addition to a home decorated in the Southwestern style, which centers around design themes that reflect the natural environment and traditional heritage of the American Southwest.

What style of home decor is your favorite?  Or do you prefer an eclectic mix?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!


Needle Felting Supplies in Maine March 1, 2017 08:30

At Bates Mill Store, we work with yarn all day long - and we LOVE IT!  On our off-hours, though, we like to play around with different types of media.  A fun little hobby we recently discovered is needle felting, which consists of shaping loose wool fibers into 3D objects using a barbed needle. This scrumptious little bunny was one of our first accomplishments in needle felting.

The idea of needle felting may sound a bit unusual at first, but we think you’ll find it to be strangely addictive and supremely satisfying...we did!  Just LOOK at that adorable little face and tell us you don’t want to make one of your own!

Naturally, when we set out to start our adventure in needle felting, we searched for a local supplier because that’s kind of important to us.  Our search led us first to Purple Moose Felting of rural Sidney, Maine.  They are an online supplier, but they have offered classes locally and are very enthusiastic about all things felted.

We got started with their Needle Felters Fantasy Kit, but you can also start small with a beginners kit.  Another great way to get started is an instructional kit for a specific design, like the Spotted Cow Fuzz Butts pictures below (love that name!).  The step-by-step instructions will help you understand the basics of needle felting for your first go-around.

In our search for local needle felting businesses, we also came across FiberThyme of Sumner, Maine.  They offer needle felting supplies, kits and classes from their rural farm, A Wrinkle in Thyme, where they like to do things the “old fashioned way”.  They even have a fiber CSA where you can choose the actual sheep your wool comes from. 

The kits offered by FiberThyme are different from those offered by Purple Moose Felting because you end up with a flat image, or felt “tile”, rather than a 3D object.  This method is great for home accents like wall hangings and throw pillows.  We haven’t tried one of their kits just yet, but we plan to!  We think the Lobstah Tyme Kit, pictured below, will be a good place to start.

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Do you know of a needle felting supplier in Maine that should be added to our list?  Let us know in the comments below!


Antique Textiles: Our 4 Favorite Textiles from Antiques Roadshow February 16, 2017 13:27 1 Comment

Every week, we receive notes from folks all around the country who find themselves in possession of antique Bates bedspreads. Whether they receive them as a family heirloom or stumble upon them at an estate sale, there is nothing like finding a beautiful antique textile and then researching its origin. Below, we explore PBS's Antiques Roadshow archive to go beyond Bates and share our 4 favorite antique textile finds on the show.

Source: Antiques Roadshow

1. American Album Quilt, ca. 1863

Our first antique textile is a beautifully made quilt that was originally hand stitched in New Jersey back in 1863. The owner received the quilt as a family heirloom - amazing to think that's its passed through so many generations in its over 150 year existence. From a time where we often remember in black and white, we love to see the vivid colors that are very representative of the period that the quilt was made. Valued $6000 - $8000.

Source: Antiques Roadshow

2. Slave Quilt, ca. 1830

This Slave Quilt is another hand-stitched piece from a darker side of American history. Produced by an African-American slave in the South in the early 19th century, the quilt is a stunning example of a piece that strongly represents the culture of the makers native country in both color and motif. Interestingly, this particular quilt has incredible documentation that links it back to the estate of President Polk which raises its value even more. Valued $40,000 - $60,000.

Source: Antiques Roadshow

3. Navajo Ute First Phase Blanket, ca. 1850

Our next antique textile is an incredible piece from Native American history that had been passed down to the owner through his family. A gift from Kit Carson to a family member, one would simply think that provenance would make this blanket a national treasure, however, the story doesn't end there. This Navajo blanket is incredibly important historically as well as artistically. It comes from the very beginning of Navajo weaving and was made for a Ute Chief in the mid-19th century. In addition, it is made of incredibly fine wool and the finest dyes used at the time of its creation. Adding to its artistic value, it also has some repairs dated to the late 19th century that is representative of the great skills of the Navajo weavers. Valued $750,000 - $1,000,000.

Source: Antiques Roadshow

4. Jacquard Coverlet, ca. 1850

This Jacquard Coverlet is beautiful example of the intricate weaving that was made possible by the invention of Jacquard looms. It is truly a beautiful piece passed down through generations. This particular coverlet stood out to us as it clearly inspired our own designers as they imagined the classic Bates design, Tuscany. Valued $800 - $1200.

Source: Maine Heritage Weavers 


We love learning about antique textiles from our customers and on shows like Antiques Roadshow. Share your own stories and favorite finds in the comments. 


5 Unique American-Made Coffee Tables to Love February 2, 2017 13:49

Sometimes, when you're shopping for a new piece of furniture, it can be hard to find just the right thing.  With so many options out there, it's difficult to even know how or where to begin!  If you're in the market for a new coffee table, then look no further!  We've put together a list of 5 American-Made options that we're about ready to purchase ourselves...

1. For the Family: Multipurpose Coffee Table Nesting Set of 4

This ingenious design is perfect for an active household with multiple members.  Everyone gets a piece of the pie! Split it up into slices for individual use, or stick it all together on family game night.  If you're tight on space, the sections are stackable and fit nicely into the corner of a room.  

 

2. For the Bargain Budget: Montauk Coffee Table

It's not often you see a wooden folding table!  With it's exterior finish, this table has the option of being hauled outside for summer entertaining.   It's foldability makes it easy to transport or store.  If you're really feeling excited, you can buy a matching set of chairs to go with it.  Beautifully made and modestly priced-- can't get much better than that!

3. For the Design Enthusiast: Artless Coffee Table

Sleek and simple in its design, this coffee table by Artless comes in two different sizes. Take your pick of a Black Walnut or White Oak base-- we love them both.  

4. For the Color Lover:  Slim Cocktail Tables in Colors

If your room needs a brilliant pop of color, then this steel table is for you.  Available in 12 different colors, this 2-level table is both bold and useful.  Work off of the top, and store some extra stuff underneath!

 

5. For the Big Spender: Lava Coffee table

This molten-rock coffee table is a sure show-stopper!  The unexpected combination of textures and materials makes this table both rugged and glamorous.  And hey, if you can't afford it right out-- they've got payment options!

 

Do you own an American-Made coffee table that you'd like to add to the list?  Please share it with us in the comments below!


5 Time Saving Hacks to Get You Out the Door On-Time January 30, 2017 12:57

Odds are that at some point in your life, you’ve struggled with getting out the door on time in the morning.  For some, this is an occasional mishap, while for others the cramped morning rush is a cycle they can’t seem to break.  Whether you simply want to improve on your current morning routine, or you’re a habitual offender of the snooze button whose morning routine needs a complete overhaul, these steps are a good place to start.

1. Relocate Your Alarm

If you can reach the snooze button without opening your eyes, that is half of the problem.  You’re less likely to “abuse the snooze” if you have to physically get out of bed to activate it.  Try placing your alarm clock across the room, or you can invest in one of these alarms specially design for snoozers.

2. Prep Your Coffee Maker

Save time and get the caffeine into your system faster by prepping your coffee maker the night before. Come morning, all you'll have to do is hit the go button!  Want a cup ready and waiting as soon as you roll out of bed?  No problem!  Check out these automatic coffee machines.

3. Plan Your Lunches

When you make your grocery list, don’t just plan your dinners, plan your lunches as well!  You’ll not only save time in the morning by planning ahead, you’ll save money by cutting down on all of those impromptu lunches out.  Pick a recipe off this list of 15 make ahead lunches to get started.

4. Plan Quick, Quality Breakfasts

Getting a boost of healthy, sustaining nutrients in the morning is the key to a productive, happy day.  When we are crunched for time, we often find ourselves settling for an unhealthy option (donuts, anyone?) or skipping breakfast altogether.  Try keeping your fridge stocked with healthy, grab-n-go options (like one of these healthy protein shakes).

5. Get a Key Rack

Nothing you do to save time in the morning will matter if you can’t find your keys (assuming you drive to work).  A mad-dash through the laundry basket and couch cushions can be stressful and time consuming.  Avoid the hassle by installing (and using) a key rack.  Start your shopping by checking out this made in America key rack.



Do you have a time-saving hack that helps you get out the door on time?  Share it with us in the comments below!


Made in USA Sofas for All Price Ranges January 19, 2017 03:00

Whether you just moved or are looking to upgrade your home, there are many options for Made in USA sofas at all price levels. As your explore your options, we recommend getting started with these three companies highlighted below. Happy sofa hunting!

1. Budget - CoolSofa.com

Based in Southern California, we were delighted to find CoolSofa.com's vast selection of American made sofas at a reasonable price (under $1000). Their design aesthetic leans more towards modern, and they offer lots of different custom options including colors, textures and accessories. Their mid-century modern sofas stand out in their collection as timeless options for both the modern and classic home alike. Pictured: Greenwich Studio Sofa in Marlow Asphalt (From $695).

Source: CoolSofa.com

2. Mid-Range - Carolina Chair

Carolina Chair is a family-owned furniture company based in North Carolina that has been making furniture for 3 generations. Their assortment features classic sofa styles that are a great fit for traditional American homes. Their array of plush styles look incredibly comfortable and like the perfect place to watch a movie or to enjoy an afternoon nap. Pictured: Lewis Sofa (From $1875).

Source: Carolina Chair

3. Luxury - American Leather

Nothing says luxury sofa quite like leather. American Leather has a vast collection of both leather (and upholstered) sofas that are made of the highest quality materials in timeless designs. In addition to their beautiful furniture, we also love American Leather's dedication to American manufacturing and innovation. Pictured: Braxton Standard Sofa (from $2385).

Source: American Leather


 

We love hearing about other American manufacturers! Share your own favorites in the comments below.

Build Your Own American-Made Bedding Set December 22, 2016 11:27 1 Comment

It's winter! And although you probably think fondly of your bed year-round (and you should!) it's especially inviting during the chilly months. Considering the average person spends 25 years of their lifetime just sleeping, it's important that your bed is outfitted to your liking.  Check out this list of our favorite American-made bedding essentials.  You'll be building a bedding set to love in no time!

1) Made in USA Sheets

Many people experience skin irritation and/or allergies during the night.  This can make sleeping comfortably difficult, especially if their sheets contains irritating substances. NoFeathersPlease.com offers a vast selection of organic cotton sheets, all created with these sensitivities in mind.

 

2) Made in USA Pillows

Pillows are essential to getting a quality night's rest.  Many of us keep our pillows for years and years, and overtime they get flat and ineffective.  This can lead to those awful cricked necks in the morning, and who wants that?  We love these natural options from Nest Bedding.

3) American Made Bedspreads/Coverlets

Every sleeper will enjoy the weight and quality of a Made in USA bedspread or coverlet! Easy to wash and classically elegant, our 100% cotton spreads will last a lifetime of sleeping.

Bates Diamond Coverlet

4) American Made Blankets

Everyone can agree, blankets are a must especially when it's cold outside!  Nothing is better than snuggling up in a favorite blanket after a long day.  Blankets are the heart and soul of a bed, and warm us both physically and emotionally.  Our limited release Mt. Kineo Woven Cotton Blanket is sure to be a comfort for years to come!

Bates Mt. Kineo Woven Blanket

5) Made in USA Baby Bedding

If you have a little one on the way, you'll be wanting to think about bedding for them, too!  New Arrivals Inc. carries crib bedding sets that are all made right here in America out of carefully selected nursery fabrics.

Have a favorite part of your own American Made bedding set? Let us know in the comments.